Sunday, March 08, 2009

Annie Oakley

Its this time of year again and we are reading about Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Annie was a self-taught sharpshooter who performed in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

Here is an article about her. She was petite, beautiful and happily married for 50 years. When she died her husband stopped eating and died shortly after. (So the story goes.) Here is a little known piece of history, a letter she wrote to the president.
    "Hon Wm. McKinley, President
    Dear Sir
    I for one feel confident that your good judgment will carry America safely through without war.But in case of such an event I am ready to place a company of fifty lady sharpshooters at your disposal.Every one of them will be an American and as they will furnish their own arms and ammunition will be little if any expense to the government.
    very truly,
    Annie Oakley"
    It appears she was turned down. She did demonstrate sharpshooting for the troops and over the years trained many women to shoot. Annie was certainly deeply affected by certain unhappy aspects of her childhood and wished to teach other women to be as self-reliant as she was.
    She was always ladylike and well-dressed and gave much of her prize money for children's charities.
    It is always good to remind ourselves of how real people have lived their lives. We may not aspire to what Annie did, but we don't need to be bound by convention either.


    Mara Reid said...

    You probably know this already since you are interested in her biograpy, Suzanne.
    But I'd like to mention it so others dropping in here might know.
    Annie's parent(s) was/were Quakers, whether practicing at that time or not, I don't remember.
    Quakers were not so hung up on what women couldn't do as others in those days, so Annie had a lot more freedom to experiment with "unfeminine" things at an early age than many other girls.
    Her story really is interesting and "Annie Get Your Gun" is not the best place to look for accuracy on her.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    Thanks so much. I didn't know that about her. We always read her story with our wild west unit and I have been impressed by the impression that she was a deeply humanitarian and generous person.